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When not to azure


Greetings All,

I have been working on a few various techniques and had a question
for all of you. I was never trained to “azure” the back of any
pieces beyond simply drilling and beveling holes for ease of
cleaning and such. Now, however, I’ve decided that their additional
ornamentation is a worthwhile endeavor for a number of pieces. The
problem I am having however is deciding when to azure the back and
when not to. Mostly, I’ve notice a real lack of azures on the back
of many high-end rings where the shank is encrusted in pave or the
ring contains a halo. Is this considered the norm? If so, why? Is it
due to structural concerns regarding the fragile framework that
would be left following the combination of micro-pave and azures? Or
better yet, is there some sort of industry “guideline” or ballpark
as to when this technique is done and when it is not?

Thank you very much for any advice you can offer!

Erich C. Shoemaker

I've decided that their additional ornamentation is a worthwhile
endeavor for a number of pieces. 

Erich, your post reminded me of an article on azures by Michael
Bondanza that had amazing azure designs. The instructor at a college
where I was taking classes wrote to him and he sent her the sample
piece, so I saw the actual work. It was exquisite. The article is on
Ganoksin, but I don’t seem to be able to find the pictures anywhere.

Neil A.


We ajour a lot and taught a workshop on it at the last MJSA Portland
Jeweler’s symposium.

May I state first. I am SO over micro pave. Hate it. Thanks.

Much of the tiny micro pave stones are 1mm and under. You often see
finished good with no pilot holes at all because it would be C With
the trend of setting tiny diamonds on every available surface of a
ring including the shank, halo, up the sides and on the top of
prongs the ring would be reduced to swiss cheese.

We ajour most all of our bead set work that has stones 1mm and

Our clients expect it for the prices they pay us. It’s a fun process
and is lovely to look at when done, even if you are the only person
who knows and can see it. It’s a pride thing.

The main trick is to use a 3/0 blade and make sure that it is super
tight in your saw frame.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer


The only time you should not cut mise-a-jour is if the reverse is
entirely enclosed, as in a bead or ball set en pave, etc. If the
back can be seen, ajours should be cut.

Good ajoure work is a mark of quality; it shows that the jeweler is
concerned about the entirety of the piece and not just the face.

I don’t design things with micro-pave so can’t speak to the
technical difficulties of cutting ajours in back of those those tiny
seats. But if you’re not concerned about lightening the piece but
only in developing a pattern you might try using gravers to cut the
corners. Just a notion.

Elliot Nesterman


Thank you everyone for your responses. I really appreciate the help
and the advice.

Where I am struggling in understanding azures/ajours is especially
in the context of ring shanks. It would seem that if a shank is
covered in pave (top and sides) that cutting ajours would create an
execptionally delicate and fragile framework that could easily be
bent by a careless wearer. I have noticed there seems to be, in
general, an absence of ajours on in the insides of rings of this
nature and was just curious if this was considered “accepted
practice” for the sake of structural integrity or if it was just
cutting corners a bit even though houses such as Cartier, Van Cleeps
& Arpels, Buccalleti seem to omit them from a fair amount of their

? I’d like to develop a feel for when it should be done and when it
should be avoided for fear of weakening the piece too much. or as
another said, “turning it into swiss cheese”.

Thank you all very much once again!

Erich C. Shoemaker


Hi all

May I state first. I am SO over micro pave. Hate it. Thanks. 

personally I agree totally. Seems like how many angels can you fit
on the head of a pin etc. This was started by JAR and it is so meh!
Those tiny stones are virtually worthless and don’t look very
exciting/interesting IMHO. I am always intrigued by multi-stone
rings when instead of lots of little stones one good one could have
been used.

From a business point I love micro pave. I sell very simple designs,
good size rocks in bezel settings. So many clients tell me so much
jewellery is just too “busy” and like my simple designs. Harking back
to posts by Jo-Ann and John I give the customer what they want, I am
in business. And I make the best quality for the price point.

Now Miranda Kerr is Swarovski’s pin up girl I am using a lot of
their Signity cut CZs. GIA certified to best quality for cut. They
really spoil you as they are so perfectly cut. Always interested in
what sells in “stones”. My best selling rings have the least
expensive stones, mother of pearl, crystal balls and coins. All cost
less than the gems I use but sell for the same price.

Emotion is a big seller the coins I use are three pence pieces, used
to be put in Xmas puddings. Many remember those times.

Others are fascinated by “old” money.